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Working from Home During Corona Virus? Tips to Make It Work

Working from Home During Corona Virus? Tips to Make It Work

At Mfalme MB, we recognize that the spread of coronavirus may be unsettling for many of our team members, customers and partners around the world. Among the measures we’ve implemented is encouraging our team to work virtually to stay connected to customers and colleagues. In these challenging times, here are six tips from our employees for maintaining sound health, contentment and productivity while working from home.

1. Have a comfortable and healthy workspace setup

When working outside the office, basic health and safety measures that we are accustomed to can fall by the wayside. To ease eye strain, minimize glare on your laptop and make sure you have good lighting. Sit at a proper distance from your screen, about an arm’s distance. Ideally, you should position your computer screen so windows are to the side instead of in front or behind.

Most computer users find that their eyes feel better if they avoid working under overhead fluorescent lights. If possible, turn off any overhead fluorescent light

and use floor lamps that provide indirect soft white LED lighting instead. Also, ensure that your chair is in a comfortable, upright position for you.
Also, ensure that your chair is in a comfortable, upright position for you.
Developing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or back pain is the last thing you want to happen during this period. Make sure you have all the preventative measures covered. Even if you do not have an office chair, you can adjust your seating position. Place a cushion, a rolled-up jumper or blanket behind you to bring you forward in your seat to create a good posture. These considerations are often overlooked when working from home.

2. Make time for yourself before your work start time

Do you usually commute to work by walking, biking, train, bus or car? Why not set aside the time you’d normally spend commuting on self-development?

There are a couple of options to consider for your “me” time during this work-at-home period. Exercise is good for mental health and for maintaining a “can-do” attitude. You could also spend time focusing on a hobby or expanding your knowledge in your field of work.

Without injecting some creativity into how you self-isolate or work from home, work-life can become challenging. Through personal development time, you can maintain good mental health and wellbeing whilst also unlocking new potential.

3. Find a dedicated workspace in your home

While the idea of working from your bed or sofa may seem appealing, it is far from ideal. If you opt to work from either of these places, you may find that you are unable to separate work from leisure. There is also a risk that working in these places may result in thinking about work when you need to relax. What’s more, having your laptop on your lap while you work for a long period may sound easy, but it can cause strain in the long run.

To guarantee work-life separation, set up a desk or table to work from, and only sit there during your working hours. Take intermittent breaks, and when the end of the day arrives, walk away from your laptop and do not check your emails from any of your chill-out areas at home. By working in any designated relaxation zone, you may inflict unnecessary work pressures on yourself. This may impact your mental health and well-being, which could potentially cause anxiety, stress and lack of sleep.

4. Dress comfortably – but for work

When in the comfort of your home, don’t give in to the temptation of rolling out of bed and working in your nightwear. Don’t give your brain the wrong signals. Although working from home is convenient, try not to change your daily work routine. Set boundaries to ensure work-life balance whilst putting your brain in gear. Be ready for noticeable productivity, and seize the workday.

5. Take regular short breaks

If you are working on a lengthy task, take regular breaks to stretch your legs. Being super productive for a long period is difficult, so make sure you take short, regular breaks to re-energize. Breathe, grab a cup of tea, go for a short walk or do something else relaxing and not work-related, and your brain will thank you for it later.

One simple method to enhance productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the technique uses a 25-minute timer to divide the day. After each 25-minute stint, you get a short break.

Any breaks you take should be away from your work desk at home. So whether you are making a cup of tea or reading a newspaper, the aim is to take an intermission from work.

6. Communicate

It’s safe to say that even when in an office, effective team communication for some is the hardest thing to achieve. When you maintain a distance from others for a long time, it’s especially important to find a way to touch base with colleagues. So schedule work-related phone calls and video conferences. Online platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype are handy for maintaining a line of communication. 

In addition to using these platforms for work meetings, we are scheduling virtual coffee breaks and happy hours at Elsevier, bringing together our colleagues from around the world.

Outside of work hours, it is also important to communicate with your friends and family, particularly if self-isolation is in progress.

What are your best tips for working from home?

Hopefully, these tips are useful to you. My colleagues and I would love to hear from those of you working remotely on how you are adjusting and what you’re doing to maintain wellness and productivity.

How to Pick the Best Light Bulb for Every Room

How to Pick the Best Light Bulb for Every Room

The lighting in a room isn’t just part of the decor; it can affect everything from your sleep schedule to your brain power.

So it’s understandable that you want your home, the place you presumably spend a big chunk of your life, to be lit nicely. But there are so many different options to choose from!

Certain types of lighting serve a specific purpose, and when it comes to your home, you want the right type, depending on the purpose of your room. To optimize your home’s lighting.

First of ALL, consider how you’re using each room.

Generally, lighting function falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent

 

  • General or ambient lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light.” You might use a chandelier, pendant light, track lighting or wall sconces to create ambient light that fills the room.
 
  • Task lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options. But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too.
  • Accent lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.

To properly light your rooms using these techniques, consider how you’re going to use each room and whether there’s anything you want to accent in the room. Then, start layering. HGTV recommends you start with ambient lighting, then consider task and accent lighting:

I like to move from general to specific when planning the lighting for a room. With rooms that are heavily task-oriented, however, such as home offices, some designers focus on task lighting first. And in a hallway that doubles as a photo or art gallery, accent lighting might be the first consideration.

Mrs. Patricia

Interior Lighting

Then, think about where that lighting will go in the room. Don’t worry about the fixtures yet, just think about where you want different lighting to fall in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these general, room-by-room suggestions:

  • Living room: In addition to ambient light, Real Simple suggests using an accent light in one corner of the room. Focus on an object, like a piece of art or a chair.
  • Kitchen: Add your ambient light overhead, then add lower task lighting to illuminate the counter space where you work. If possible, the sink is also a good spot to add task lighting.
  • Bedroom: It’s common to have task lighting in your bedroom on nightstands. Real Simple also recommends pointing any light away from the bed. They suggest angling overhead ambient light away from the bed and toward the dressing area, specifically.
  • Bathroom: Bathroom lighting can be tricky. You want task lighting for the mirror, but an overhead task light can create shadows. Consider lighting the mirror on either side. Then, use an overhead ambient light to fully illuminate the room.

Of course, if you’re a renter, you may not be able to do much about some of the lighting position in your home or apartment. But these general guidelines can give you an idea of how to work with what you’ve got.

Step 2: Choose the right bulbs

Your bulb is your light source, so the type of bulb determines what the light will look like.
Different bulbs perform differently, and there are four basic types:

Incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.

Halogen: These give off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb.

Compact florescent bulbs (CFLs): These use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb. They also last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal.

LEDs: Just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they only provided a harsh, direct light, but like CFLs. They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, they’re less hot to the touch, and they last a long time. For these reasons, they can also be more expensive, but there are utility rebates available.

There are other types of bulbs, but these are the most common you’ll use in your home. For the purpose of this post, we’re only concerned with how bulbs look.

If you’ve bought a bulb recently, you might’ve noticed a new label. The FTC now requires bulb packaging to include information about brightness, how long the bulb will last, how much energy it uses, and whether it meets Energy Star requirements.

For this post, we’re concerned with brightness, which is measured in lumens, and light appearance, which is measured in Kelvins.

Lumens = Brightness

The more lumens, the brighter the bulb. A typical home bulb produces about 800 lumens, which is the equivalent of 60 watts. So how many lumens do you need for each room? That’ll depend on how big your room is, what color your walls are, and, obviously, intensity of lighting you prefer.

Use this calculator to come up with a specific number, based on your home and preferences. But here’s a general breakdown;

  • Kitchens: 5,000 – 10,000 total lumens
  • Bathrooms: 4,000 – 8,000 total lumens
  • Bedrooms: 2,000 – 4,000 total lumens
  • Living rooms: 1,500 – 3,000 lumens
  • Dining rooms: 3,000 – 6,000 lumens
  • Home offices: 3,000 – 6,000 lumens

KITCHEN (Max Lumens)

BATHROOM (Max Lumens)

BEDROOM (Max Lumens)

LIVING ROOM (Max Lumens)

DINING ROOM (Max Lumens)

HOME OFFICE (Max Lumens)

Keep in mind, these are very rough estimates and account for having different types of bulbs and lighting options in each room. Kitchens are typically brighter and include a mix of ambient light and task lighting, for example. Bedrooms and living rooms are typically less bright.

If you know how to light your room in terms of watts. Some CFL and LED bulbs will put their wattage equivalents on the box, while many don’t—so this chart should help give you a good idea of how bright your new bulb is going to be.

Light Appearance = Kelvins

Beyond brightness, you also want to consider the color temperature of the light. CFLs weren’t great years ago, because they mostly only produced a very blue, cool light. But they’ve come a long way, and you can now find them in warmer, yellower tones. 

The package should tell you the color temperature of the light, from warm to cool, measured in Kelvins. The higher the Kelvins, the cooler the light. Lighting blogs explains how bulb boxes typically refer to different bulb temperatures.

They also add where these temperatures are best used in your home:

Soft white/warm white (2700 Kelvin): Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them.

Bright white/cool white (4100 Kelvin): Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.

Daylight (5000-6000 Kelvin): Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup—provides the greatest contrast among colors.

You can also try this interactive tool from Energy Star, which suggests what kind of bulb to get for different lighting options in every room.

It helps to have a basic idea of how bulbs work. This way, you can pick and choose a bulb to your liking. Also, dimmers are a great option if you want to vary the intensity of your lighting.

Step 3: Pick your fixtures

Now that you know the function of your lighting, how bright you want it, and what temperature you prefer, it’s time to pick the best type of fixture for optimizing all of those factors. Here are some common fixtures, along with how (and where) they’re typically used:

  • Ceiling mount fixtures: Pretty standard for ambient lighting. The House Designers say they’re ideal in entry foyers, hallways, bedrooms, task areas, stairways. In hallways, they recommend spacing out fixtures every eight to 10 feet for adequate illumination.
  • Chandeliers: When used for general or ambient lighting, they’re best used in dining room or or bedrooms.
  • Wall-mounted fixtures: These are usually sconces. They can be used in any room for ambient, task, or accent lighting, depending on where you put them and what kind of bulb you use.
  • Pendant lighting: Used for task or general lighting, they hang from the ceiling and are equipped with shades to avoid glare. They work best over dining room tables, countertops or other work areas.
  • Recessed lighting: Again, recessed lighting can be used anywhere for general, task or accent lighting. It all depends on how bright they are and where they’re located.
  • Track lighting: You can use track lighting for pretty much anything, too. It’s especially versatile because you can often move the individual lamps around and point them in whatever direction you want. This might be as an accent to highlight some artwork, or you might just use them to illuminate the whole room.
  • Table lamps: Great for accent lighting in a living room or task lighting in a bedroom.

The Lighting Research Center offers detail about some additional light fixtures, including how to install them and what sort of lighting effect they have. Remember: different fixtures call for different types of bulbs. So as you’re picking a fixture, consider what type of bulb it requires.

This is more of a design rule than a lighting rule, but when picking the right fixture, you also want to consider size. A fixture that’s too small or too big can make your room’s proportions look odd. Guideline for choosing the right size fixture, but here are some highlights:

Table lamps: A great general rule of thumb is that the lamp should be no more than 1.5 times the height of whatever the lamp is sitting on and lampshade diameter should be no wider than the table top.

Sconces: The closer you will be to whatever the sconce is lighting, the smaller the sconce should be. So for example, in bathrooms where you will be close to the mirror, go for tiny ones of about 9-10”. In bathrooms, mount sconces 36 to 40” apart, flanking the mirror, 18” from the sink’s center line. If the sconces have shades, put the bottom edges of the shades a little below eye level (60 to 68” from the floor).

Chandeliers & pendant lighting: Measure the width or diameter of your table. Then subtract 12” from that number. That’s the maximum limit for the width or diameter of a hanging light. Keep in mind that a fixture with a busy or complex design will actually appear larger, so if that’s what is catching your eye, you’ll want to scale your maximum width down slightly.

Assuming you have 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the tabletop. But if your ceilings are higher, the suggestion is to add 3 more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling.

How to Best Light Your Kitchen

How to Best Light Your Kitchen

Designers share important considerations when developing a lighting plan for a kitchen.

The first task when creating a lighting plan for the kitchen is to honestly assess the activities that will occur in the space, from cooking to entertaining and office activities.

The lighting designer should work with the architect to ensure all possible special lighting effects are incorporated into the plan.

The lighting over the cooktop is an excellent example of task lighting, designed to light a specific activity.

The three main types of lighting are general, which provides basic light for the room; task lighting,

which highlights a specific work area; and accent lighting, which can create a focal point in the room. Types of lighting should be layered within a space.

The location of counters in the general layout of the room is important in the placement of lighting fixtures.

When designing lighting for cooking, it is important to have adequate light and a good distribution of light for general illumination. Multiple sources are best, so the light is coming in from different directions.

Accent lighting can provide visual interest and a focal point in the room.

Under-cabinet lighting does a terrific job of providing task lighting for countertop activities. It is shadow-free and provides a nice architectural feature since it emphasizes the shape and contour of the kitchen.

Center islands provide wonderful design opportunities for lighting, from simple recessed downlights for task lighting to pendants or decorative lights that provide ambient or diffused light.

General lighting in the center of the room can be recessed cans or, like the chandeliers over this island, more visible pendant lights.

The quality of the light and bulbs will affect the atmosphere in the room. Incandescent light provides soft, warm yellowish light, usually used for recessed cans or downlights. Halogen lights produce a crisp white light that is appropriate for task lighting; fluorescent lights, which have a long life and low energy use, now come in many different shades from warm to cool.

Accent lighting creates a focal point by drawing the eye to a particular object. It can be used to highlight architectural features like a coffered ceiling or arches, or artwork and special collections on display. Cove lighting provides soft, indirect light.